Beauty and the geek: Windows Phone 'Mango' vs. Android

Microsoft's mobile OS reboot turns out to be a small update that lacks enterprise security and rich apps but is a cleaner alternative to Google's Android for smartphones

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Windows Phone handles text selection a little better. It seems more sensitive to when you want to insert the cursor within text, and it displays a large colored insertion cursor when you do so, providing a visual clue as to where the cursor will end up before you lift your finger.

Copy and paste -- even basic selection -- is often not available in Android. In some fields, tapping and holding brings up the Edit Text contextual menu that lets you copy or paste the entire field's contents; in others you can't even do that. Although the browser lets you select and copy text, this ability is not universal. For example, you can't select text in email messages.

Windows Phone is a little better in this regard, as more text objects are selectable than in Android. But it's still not universal: You can't, for example, copy and paste selections from a tweet -- just the whole tweet.

Both Android and Windows Phone 7 support physical keyboards, so people who don't like onscreen keyboards can get devices with a physical one instead.

The winner: Windows Phone 7 -- as long as you're under 30 years of age or have your reading glasses handy. It is easier to navigate the OS and apps alike in "Mango" than in Android, especially if you keep your app portfolio small.

Windows Phone 7.5 vs. Android 2.3: Security and management As I said at the beginning, "Mango" lacks any meaningful security or management capabilities a larger business would need. The handful of Exchange policies it can enforce include requiring a password to use the device, requiring a complex password, expiring passwords after a period of time, preventing password reuse, and allowing a device to be remotely wiped if it's lost or stolen. There's no VPN support and no on-device encryption -- two typical enterprise needs.

Android "Gingerbread" is actually worse -- with fewer password management controls than Windows Phone 7. However, Motorola Mobility sells Android smartphones with security raised to nearly iOS standards. And you can use a third-party app such as NitroDesk TouchDown or mobile device management (MDM) tool to provide a securable, manageable space in Android for corporate data such as email, contacts, and calendars.

Android does support VPNs, unlike Window Phone. But Android "Gingerbread" has difficulty connecting to certificate-based wireless LANs, such as those using the PEAP protocol, whereas Windows Phone 7 easily connected to such LANs. (Google tells me PEAP is supported but requires extra work by both IT and users to create the connection; the company is looking at making the process simple in a future update.)

Android can back up settings, contact, calendar, and email data wirelessly to your Google account online. Windows Phone doesn't have this capability. But it does let you find your phone from Microsoft's website if you lose it, as long as you've entered your Windows Live credentials as an account on the device. This is not a standard capability in Android, though some Android device makers provide the service.

The winner: A tie, as both are weak in this category. However, Android can be made more securable through the use of third-party software, whereas Windows Phone cannot.

Windows Phone 7.5 vs. Android 2.3: Overall winner When all is said and done, does the beauty beat the geek -- does pretty Penny triumph over awkwardly geeky Raj? When it comes to the hard numbers, no -- Android squeaks by Windows Phone. But when it comes to personality -- who you want to spend time with -- Windows Phone is much more copacetic, as long as your needs are simple.

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This article, "Beauty and the geek: Windows Phone 'Mango' vs. Android," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile computing, read Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog at InfoWorld.com, follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter, and follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

Read more about mobile technology in InfoWorld's Mobile Technology Channel.

This story, "Beauty and the geek: Windows Phone 'Mango' vs. Android" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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